Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Trees and Snow - Pictures Galore!

Here we are shopping for our tree!

Here are the promised pictures of my Aunt and Uncle's Christmas Tree Farm...okay here are the pictures of the inside of the barn. I forgot to take a picture of the outside!? And my grandfather wasn't there, he had a cold, so I didn't take a picture of the train either. Still, the inside of the barn is mighty cute!

These first pictures are what you see when you come in. This display case is to the left of the door. It's actually the second of two cases. I took the picture of this display case from opposite the door because there was someone paying at the register nearest the door. As you can see, it is chock full of glass ornaments, as is the other one.
This flocked tree and sleigh are to the right of the door. There are basket of ornaments and decorations everywhere.
Further along is this old water
heater (I think?) and behind it a huge, old (horse-drawn) wagon. As you can see, there are more ornaments. It's a Christmas lover's paradise, I tell you.

As you turn the corner, next to the wagon is this old coin operated horse. I skipped a few displays, but took a picture of this Santa poster and an antique newspaper article with pictures of the barn in its original condition.

Next to the giant (4+ feet in diameter) wreath that you can see the edge of in that picture is a doorway with a step down to the back rooms. One room has this old wagon, mystery iron thing (well, it's a mystery to me), old iron bell, and giant painting that used to be on a wall in some old restaurant. You can get an idea of the height of the room when you realize that people could stand up inside that wagon. Just the wheel is nearly 4 feet tall. Look how much more wall is above the wagon and we still can't see the ceiling in this picture!

Across from that room is the flocking room. Rexy was sooooooo excited. She loves snow this year and to see a bunch of Christmas trees - with snow! - was way more than exciting. She was laughing with delight. And her excitement really never abated. We had to drag her out of there to go outside - more Christmas tree excitement - but when we went back in she was just as delighted as she had been at first.

In that same room is this old sleigh with a fairly realistic looking Santa sitting in it and a bunch of wreaths and garland.

To the left of the front counter/display case is this looooong line of display cases including this painted one that is just full of angel ornaments of all types. Across the aisele from that is this old gas station pump and metal tree.

At the far end of the room is this old apothecary chest with gold ornaments handing from the drawers. There are dozens of oversize ornaments hanging from the ceiling, too, but I didn't get a picture of them. Across from this chest is a table with Christmas village-type stuff on it.

This is Rexy in her room with her tree. After all her excitement, my aunt decided that Rexy needed a flocked tree in her room. We hid in the trunk of the car and surprised her with it the next evening. She was so thrilled she jumped up and down! Then she immediately walked over, picked up this bucket, and put it on top of the tree! So sweet! Since then she has decorated it with crayons, farm animals, plastic leis, Mardi Gras beads, and a dinosaur.

Lastly, here's a picture of our girl enjoying the snow.

In the next couple days I'll post pictures of our tree and some of the art projects I'm working on. Hope you are enjoying your holidays!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Artists and Poets

Just a quick non-holiday related item. A poem and accordian book that I made is being featured on The Artists and Poets Blog today. I wrote the poem and made the accordian book in response to a ZNE theme week challenge way back in April of 2006. I started working with altered art/mixed media techniques about 6 weeks before that. Again, I wish I had that freedom of not knowing anything.

This is another one of those things that I wish I hadn't sold. For one thing, I would love to take a picture of the book standing up in its accordian shape. For some reason I never thought to do that. I've wished for that image at least a dozen times since then.

Another reason I wish I still had it is that the subject matter feels very personal. I was feeling very alone then, we had moved out of the city and our one car was being used by my DH for work transportation. None of the neighbors was home during the day, and I couldn't go anywhere that I couldn't walk. Rexy wasn't talking, she was 2, and we hadn't yet gotten the Autism diagnosis. All I wanted to do was talk to my mom or one of my other mother-figure relatives. Sadly, my mother, my maternal grandmother, my paternal grandmother, and my great-grandmother - all important female figures in my life - are all dead now.

Ever since having my baby I have been feeling those losses more strongly than I have since the initial losses. Especially my maternal grandmother.

When she was still a small infant, Rexy used to look up as if she were really looking at someone and babble away in baby talk to the air. As if someone were playing with her. Maybe it's silly, but I started to feel like my mother and grandmother were there, watching us. Sometimes I would get that, "Look, did you see that?" feeling.

None of these pictures are actually of my mother or grandmothers, but they are representative of them. I remember my mom having that look, during the 60s - and she was always reading a book. My paternal grandmother and my great grandma always wore aprons and my maternal grandmother was always very stylish and wore bold jewelry and animal prints.

What I remember most about all of them is how much fun we had. They all loved to laugh and were very generous-hearted (weird phrase, but it works for me). Sitting around someone's table or living room, laughing and talking up a storm, are the memories that come to mind first.

What I regret most about their loss is that Rexy won't have a grandmother in her life. (My DH's mother is gone, too.) Mine were such an important part of my life. Still, they pass their legacy on. Their - and my - love of reading, late nights, creativity, and laughter is already showing up in Rexy. And my beautiful aunts and uncles, despite having their own families, try to fill in the gap.

I don't know if you can see it well enough, but behind the vellum on this last page is a piece of music, the words for which read "when I recall the love." It was just perfect for this project.

While writing this, I realized that this could be a very apt entry for Art Crusade # 15. As I said before - in a different way - family is home.

What about you? Where do you live, where are you from? Join the Art Crusade and share!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Happy Chanukah, night 8

This is the last freebie image gifted to you in honor of Chanukah. Please enjoy!

Well, I didn't think about this being so "madonna and child" - ish. But it's image 8, so there you go. I thought it was a sweet picture. Look at that tiny hand! Sniff, sniff. Reminds me of my baby when she really was a baby.

Please copy and use this image in your art, commercial or otherwise. Please do not resell the image itself as your own.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Happy Hanukah, night 7

Some of the faces on these kids are priceless! What is going on in his (her?) mind?

In honor of Hanukah, please use this image freely in your artwork - commercial or otherwise, but please do not re-sell the image by itself as your own. All freebie images are from my private stash of vintage photographs.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Happy Hanukah, night 6

In honor of Hanukah, please enjoy this free image from my personal collection of vintage photos (as are all these freebie images). Angel policy: Use these images for public, private, or commercial use in original artwork. Please don't resell as your own image.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Happy Hanukah, night 5

(I decided to give equal time to both spellings.)

In honor of Hanukah, please feel free to copy this picture to use in your artwork, personal or commercial; just please don't resell the image by itself as your own.

This one's a little rough - and overexposed - but I liked the picture so much I was (and am still) sure that it can be used somewhere. How cranky do they both look to be having their picture taken? They were probably interrupted while playing with that fab toy car. At least that's what I like to think.

Just a couple more things...

I thought I'd show you the uncharacteristically neat work area I had going on today while working on my cousin's triptych. If you remember from my Kelly Rae post, most of these collages will get covered over, at least thinly, with paint. The reason I point that out is that I noticed the fact that I used three, nearly identical heart pictures is glaringly obvious in this picture. My plan is that only one of them will be strongly revealed. The other two will remain veiled, to varing degrees, by paint.

I keep changing my mind about what to put on them. They are only 4" x 10" so I'd like to keep them simple. You can see in the photo that I've got some sketches for them on my "safety paper." (My tablecloth is underneath the 3-4 layers of engineering plans. My DH brings the paper home from work for Rexy and I to sketch on and use as dropcloths. They're always printing sets of drawings that end up being useless because they change so much.) Anyway, I always get stuck on the third painting. I suppose I should just start and hope the muse catches up. (There's my life philosophy in a nutshell - "...just go, we'll figure it out as we go along!" It gives my planaholic husband heart failure - frequently!)

More pics and stories about my girl to follow; A warning for those who are tired of hearing about the Wonder Child.

Yesterday I chaperoned Rexy's class trip to the Seattle Center to see the giant toy train setup and ride the holiday merry-go-round. It was Rexy's first trip on a school bus. She didn't love it. Too loud and too many people (3 other classes went, too.), she was hiding her face and clinging to me most of the way there. The trip back, she was fine and had fun looking out the window. When we looked at the pictures she pointed at one I had taken of a classmate in the bus and said, "The school bus!" very excitedly. I guess she likes them now.

The train and the merry-go-round were big hits. Especially the merry-go-round. It was her first ride (Too many crowds at the fair, we never take her because it would just be cruel. She'd be in agony. It's getting better though!) on one and she loved it. We got there before it opened and her class was first in line. She knew all the kids around her to some degree. Before it started she was a little aprehensive because she was up so high and the pole was icy cold. When it started up though, she got this beautific smile on her face, looked at me and exclaimed, "It's a merry-go-round!" She was absolutely thrilled. When it stopped she asked if it could "go more."

Unfortunately I couldn't get a picture of her while it was going because I had to hold on to her, she kept listing to the side! Didn't they used to have some sort of seat belt when we were kids? I swear I remember objecting to having to wear it.

Anyway, I did get pictures of Rexy and all her boyfriends. There's a little love quadrangle going on there. She loves Imad, who won't give her the time of day most of the time. Jacob and Beau love her and she pays no attention to them at all.

This is a picture of she and Imad holding hands. I made them hold hands while we were walking around, but then they didn't let go. How cute is that? (If it looks like she's cold it's because the wind was freezing! She has 3 layers on under her coat but refused to wear her scarf or button her coat up all the way. Sigh.)

This picture illustrates the love situation as it more typically is. Rexy is fascinated with Imad (look at that body language!), who is looking somewhere else, and Jacob is gazing at Rexy hoping for some attention. Beau, the boy on the far right, is usually grinning at Rexy for all he's worth with no hope of a response.

We're getting our tree tomorrow!!! Yay! I'm hoping we can get it decorated before next weekend. My DH hasn't unearthed the ornaments yet. We'll see...

Oh, and I entered a "Deck the Blogs" contest. I thought it was a fun way to be in the spirit. Now I just have to add visiting all the decked out blogs to my list of things to do...

Friday, December 7, 2007

Art Crusade #15

This month's Art Crusade is about where you live. Since I'm not in love with where we live currently (it was affordable and convenient, our dream home is still in our future), I'd like to talk about where I'm from and where I feel most at home.

First, where I'm from. I'd like to illustrate where I'm from by using the ATCs I made for a swap on the Yahoo group Artist Trading Cards whose theme was"My Hometown". My first and only ATC swap. Read why here. (When necessary I also included the back of the card with the narrative on it.) I had only made 3 ATCs before this and I had very few supplies. I look back on that situation with fondness. There was a freedom in not knowing much and in having to be creative with what I had. Now I tend to 2nd guess myself and over think things and worry about my work being derivative - and I have way too many supplies to choose from! (it's a sickness)

I'm from a relatively small city, by today's standards. When I was born and growing up the city was, too. It was already many times larger than it had been when my grandmother and grandfather were born. It was still small enough, though, that the pharmacist called us by name and asked after the family because he actually knew them. But not so small that you knew everyone and they knew you and your business. It had grown way beyond that stage by then.

These ATCs represent a few of the memories and emotions I have about my hometown. While working on them what I realized is that it's not the place, it's the people. My family lived there, worked there, went to school and were born there. Many are also buried there. Still, now that my family only works there, it has become more a place of nostalgic memories of home, rather than a place that actually feels like home.

Previous to living in the burbs, where we now live, I lived in the city for almost 14 years. Seattle is the place I feel most geographically connected to. Sometimes after being gone for many hours (especially if those were stressful hours), I would actually feel my body instantly relax as soon as I caught sight of the city skyline. I loved being a city dweller and embraced every aspect of it. I loved seeing scores of people walking down the sidewalks every day. There were years when I could say that the only franchised business I went into was the grocery store - and then even that became a locally owned independent. (Nordstrom's doesn't count because that's their original store, and a couple of the Nordstrom's lived 2 blocks from my job) The McDonald's actually went out of business in our neighborhood! Of course at the time I and most of my friends were single and childless. We had plenty of time to sit around in cafes and bars and chat about politics and literature and attend artist receptions and restaurant openings.

Now we live in the suburbs. Before I had a baby and realized I had to think about things like school districts and yardage big enough to house a swing set, I swore I would never live in the suburbs again...famous last words. Here I am. There's a lot to like about where we live - and a lot of problems with it, too. But none of that really matters. My aunts' kitchen tables are home because they are there, too. My cousins' tease me in my aunts' living rooms and they are home, too. Where my sister is, is home.

My sweet, sweet husband and Rexy are next to me and so I am home.

Happy Chanukah, night 4

Here is your present for tonight in honor of Chanukah.

Take this image and go create something! Have fun!

We're at the halfway point! Don't you think this woman has the most interesting face? There's a lot going on there.

More later...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Happy Chanukah, night 3

This is fun for me, too! I planned this giveaway last week and I can't remember what photos I put in the folder. When the "your image has been uploaded" message pops up with a thumbnail, it's a surprise!

I downloaded the camera today and there's a couple cute pictures of Rexy in the snow but I haven't cropped them, etc., yet. I'll post one soon. (Hopefully you're all as fascinated with her cuteness as I am, because those pictures will just keep coming...sorry, proud mommy.)

I'm just in love with my Secret Sister/Santa gift that I'm working. I hope it turns out. As soon as she receives it I will post a picture. The only thing I can tell you is that it is a piece of jewelry that incorporates altered art. I can't post what I made for my sister, either, because she stops by here, too. Geez! It's hard not to share. As soon as I finish what I'm doing for my cousin I will post pictures of that, she doesn't know I have a blog. I am making her a triptych using Kelly Rae's technique. I got these great, skinny, little canvases that I'm using for a decent price. I got so many I think I will post some in my Etsy store.

Due to the inclement weather we had last weekend (you might have heard that the Pacific NW got a little rain...) we couldn't go get our Christmas tree. We're going this Sunday, though. My aunt and uncle actually have a Christmas tree farm and it's really great. They've restored an old hop barn and painted it bright, barn red. It looks like one third of this building - only bigger. I hope that makes sense. I don't have a picture of their place, I'll take one this weekend. Anyway, my aunt has set up a Christmas and antique store inside the barn, as well as a flocking and wreath station. They also have several antique sleighs that they use for displays. It's really adorable. It's actually heated by a pot bellied stove! People come from miles around to go to their farm, it's a family tradition for a lot of people. Cars line the road leading up to the driveway and the parking lot is always packed. They usually have to close well before Christmas day so as not to overfarm. It's really fun and full of holiday spirit.

The capper is the train they use to take people around the farm to cut their trees. They have a real, people-sized, working train; although it's probably the tiniest people-sized train you could get. The engine is just big enough for one person and on the weekends that person is my 91 year-old grandfather. He gets frozen and stiff but he will not quit running the train. He loves it. He loves seeing the kids get all excited about it. I think he also loves the whole toy aspect to it - he's playing with a really big toy train!

This is a picture of him holding Rexy in the engine when she was just 10 months old. I don't have a more recent picture like it because the next year the autism had started showing up and she was, and is, afraid of the loud noise it makes. (Frankly, she doesn't look too enthusiastic in this photo, does she?) Last year we couldn't get her even near it. I have hopes for this year, though, she's gotton so much better with this therapy. I know my grandfather would like another picture of them in the train.

Well, I'd better stop now. I have to get up early, I'm chaperoning a field trip tomorrow!

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Happy Chanukah, night 2

(Yes, I've spelled it differently today. I like this spelling better.)

In honor of Chanukah, please enjoy this free image from my personal collection of vintage photos (as was last night's image).

Angel policy: Use these images for public, private, or commercial use in original artwork. Please don't resell as your own image.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happy Hanukah, night 1

A gift for you in honor of the season: Please copy to use as you see fit.

(Okay, I'm not Jewish. But why not honor it anyway? )

Thanks for visiting!